Singapore’s Lions XII team has been kicked out of Malaysia’s domestic league without explanation after the Malaysian soccer body decided not to extend its participation.
The decision ends a brief, but successful stay by the Lions XII, who won the Malaysian Super League in 2013 and the Malaysian FA Cup in May after returning to Malaysian soccer in 2012.
Singapore had earlier departed the soccer scene in neighboring Malaysia in 1994 after winning the Malaysian league and cup double.
A statement posted on the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) Web site late on Tuesday said a four-year memorandum of understanding signed with Singapore in 2011 will not be extended.
“This means the visiting team from Singapore that is Lions XII will not be playing in the M-League from the 2016 season,” the statement said, without giving reasons.
FAM officials were not immediately available for comment, but the Malay Mail newspaper yesterday cited deputy president Afandi Hamzah as saying the decision was motivated by travel costs.
“The biggest concern was the cost involved. It was not cheap travelling to and from Singapore and many teams found it difficult,” he said.
Former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan called it a “drastic decision” and said it was not helpful for Malaysian soccer, where corruption is a major problem and the national team is languishing at 171st in the world.
“It is a drastic decision. It is not in the interest of Malaysian football players nor ties beteen the two countries,” he said.
Velappan said if cost was a factor in the decisionmaking, then cash-rich FAM could subsidize the travel expenses.
Recently, Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin told parliament that match-fixing was “shackling” Malaysia’s attempts to progress as a soccer nation.
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